The Hebrew Letter "Yud,"
bound to the month of Elul,

sixth month of the Jewish year, late-summer.

If you're watchful now you can feel the season shifting.
You look for the small postcards planted,
in the breath of the winds, the tone of the light,
the color of the leaves.

Elul, turning time of earth and spirit,
our bodies, soul, senses, intimately attuned,
knowing in our being, 'it is time,'
with the instinct of the creatures.

A love song weaves through Elul's letters*
wooing us to attend to the work
of this season, calling us
to the tasks at hand.

*Elul, an acrostic of the Hebrew verse, "I am my beloved and my beloved, mine" "Ani L'Dodi V'Dodi Li"
from the Song of Songs.
*Elulu derives some say from the Babylonian 'to purify'

So we move to
maaseh, sphere of action
Called for in these thirty days.

To awaken,
to review our lives and our deeds
in this past year of life.
To look clearly at how we're living our lives.

Were we terse, short-tempered, or harsh?
Did we hurt another? ourselves? cause harm?
Behave less than who we truly are?
Were we absent when needed?
Withhold something easily given?

Were we generous with thanks?
Did we express appreciation?
contain that which erodes?
Give from our heart to others? to this world? to ourselves?

Now we account
for our actions, reactions, behaviors, choices and words,
or lack of them.

Now we account
for the ways we are living our lives.

And now is the time to make amends.
To right wrongs done.
To ask for forgiveness.
To speak the words, say we're sorry.
Make restitution.

Now is the time to resolve to change our course,
shift our responses when the old ways rise,
to replace these with finer, sweeter, truer acts.

Now is the time of cleansing.

Now is the time to emend
our lives.

*This season teshuvah intensifies.
Teshuvah, meaning turn, return, respond.
A time to be aware of, mend, and change our patterns, behaviors, and
make amends, ask for forgiveness, and grant forgiveness to ourselves and to others.

And as we proceed,
we use our yad semol, our left hand.

For strength is required
to undertake this work,

We're called to grasp our deeds and words
halting them. 

To thrust away
from familiar ways.

To reach out
to that which promotes life, and
to do so with power,
and determination

That we might more truly
extend our hand,
to bless, greet, give thanks.

So we hold the hoe,
to work our fields,
pull our inner weeds,
and clean our garden beds.

*Moses hand lifted in battle as Joshua led against Amalek: Exodus 17:11f
*Aaron lifted hands in blessing the people: Leviticus 9:22
*Priestly blessing: Birchat Kohanim: Numbers 6:23f practised by the lifting of hands
*Sotah 47a: "The left hand pushes away while the right hand draws near."

*A Dictionary of Symbols

So imperative is this work
that warning's carved on the doorway of
the house of this moon,
chali, illness, disease,
house of health.

For our behavior, thoughts, reactions
impacts our lives.

Actions that are 'less than',
weigh, and drain us,
lie heavy, become acid-like,
causing our minds, bodies and souls,

So now's the time to purify.

Upon this our health, well-being, and life,
and that of this earth,

To our aid comes,
the star-sign of this moon,
betulah, the virgin,
a young woman,

vigorous, teaming with energy,
and strong of intuition.

In myth, she measures and weighs produce,
a truth-teller, a keen examiner of life,
she looks into every crevice,
striving for all to be
its finest.

Humility her cloak, she brisky sets to work

setting her spheres in order, mending the torn,
cleansing the tarnished.

That all might

So we now do the same.

*See A Dictionary of Symbols

To our side,
comes Gad, tribe connected to this moon.

Linked with the lion, a powerful chieftain, he.*
Protector and well-seasoned warrior, *
he stands, a dedicated and skilled defender.

His standard, a blend of black and white,
bears the symbol of a camp.*

Able to read heaven's messages,
he sought signs for his nation's safety, he,
Commander of the troops.*

Round the Mishcan Gad
stood in the south, place of the sun's zenith.*
His brother Reuven, powerful in teshuvah and will, on the other far side. *
Both, flank their fiery brother Simeon,
watching over his unruly anger,
to ensure the gifts of the south,
"from whence dews and rains descend, bringing blessing into the world."

These, vital for their nation's life, in this time of heat,
water vital to sustain their crops, 
at this time just before harvest.

So too do we crave and need the water of life,
for our survival and well-being.

* Genesis 30:9: Story of Gad's origins and birth:
Leah, a mother with hands overfull, gave her maid Zilpah to her husband to bear in her stead, Zilpah's first son born was Gad, Leah proclaiming, "Good fortune!" as he was born.
*Genesis 49: 19: Jacob's blessing: "Should a troop attempt to raid Gad, Gad shall raid them back at their heels."
* Deuteronomy 33: 20-21: Moses expansion of Gad's blessing, ..."poised is he like a lion...revered chieftain..."
*Hebrew Source of Languages by Matituahu Glazerson, pg.12 Ibn Ezra and Rabbi Yosef Karo's comments on Gad's name, his skill of discerning the stars messages.
*Midrash Rabbah Numbers 2:7: ..."his flag was a blend of black and white...embroidered..."
*Midrash Rabbah Numbers 2:10: Gad's role

The yud, the hebrew letter of this moon, too now comes to our sides.

Floating above like a cloud, in her shape she
points both skywards and earthwards,
hovering in between, as do we this moon.*

High above the earth she offers us a space on which to repose.
A vantage point from which to view
where we have been,
and where it is we wish to go to.

Little one, the most petite of letters,
she shows us the way.

We begin this process 
by making ourselves small,
by seeing our true size
in this vast universe.

And from that place, we embark with humility
upon the season's tasks.

*Zohar: VaYikra 147: the yud's three parts, one pointing upwards, one down, the middle uniting both.
* Humility: Eruvin 13b "Whoever humbles themselves, God raises."

numerical value and order in the aleph-bet,
additionally instructs.

For with ten utterances God created the world,*
with ten plagues were we freed from slavery,*
with ten commands a covenant carved,*
with ten people complete communal prayer takes place.*

Ten days of Awe link the New Year to the Day of Atonement,
whereon the High Priest
entered the Holy of Holies uttering
the divine name ten times.*

Ten sephirot link
Divine to human and
human to Divine.

The world was created with ten, we knew freedom with ten,
we entered covenant with ten, we pray with ten,
we enter the New Year with ten, we cleanse with ten,
we know awe through ten, we interact with the Holy through ten,
and through ten the Holy joins with us,
walking beside us on this path
towards finding our true

* 10 Utterances, Sefer Yetzirah
*10 plagues: Exodus 7-12
* 10 Commands: Exodus 20: 1-14
*10 people (traditionally men) a minyan, is required to include all the prayers within a service, if there are less, one does not say the Borchu, Kiddusha, Kaddish, nor read Torah among others.
*10 times said by the High Priest: Yoma 39b

So to our side now too comes Chaniel, angel of this moon,

"As you do the work of this moon, I will walk with you.

As you open the hidden places,
descend into your shadows, survey and wrestle.
As you seek forgiveness.

As you turn away from that which damages,
resolve to react, live differently,

As you attempt to turn and change.

I will be there and shedding light upon your way.
I will accompany you, be by your side.
With each step you take, I will shed grace upon you. 

I will gift you fortitude
beyond that which you possess,
ability to endure that which you see,
and to stay the course needed to reach the place you long to be.

I will be there
sprinkling grace all around you
as you move in this time.

* Sefer Yetzirah translated by Aryeh Kaplan
*Drashed Chaniel: root as Chet Nun: grace, favor


May humility.
trickle through your being,
watering the dried places of soul,
as you move
through this wild terrain.

May the power of the young woman, of Gad,
of your left hand, of the lion, surround you.

May knowing the steps you take
carry you away from illness, towards health, towards life, 
and may this knowledge hearten you as you undertake this quest.

As you
clear your overgrown trails,
cut through the brush,
cross through the swamps,
cleanse that sullied.
As you move
towards light.

Know as you labor
there are unseen forces,
shimmering round you.
calling you,
to find your true path,

Words with yud, musings

Yuvul: Harvest                                    Yabasha: Dry land                    Yad: Hand
Yadid: Friend, Beloved                       Yom Tov: Festival                     Yom: Day
Yonah: Dove                                       Yored: First rains                   Yuval: Stream, brook
Yoresh: Heir                                        Yayin: Wine                              Yam: Sea
Yoeitz: Counselor, Advisor                  Yotzer: Creator, Potter            Yoredet: Waterfall
Yaar: Forest                                        Yareiach: Moon                       Yaldah: Girl
Yesod: Foundation                              Yetzer: Inclination, instinct      Yarok: Green
Yerusha: Inheritance                           Yael: Mountain goat, Ibex       Yeled: Boy
Yavneh: Institute of Study

Your harvest nears its gathering time. 
You now come to your Beloved entering this time of turning,
becoming more vulnerable, as you turn to earth in your Potter's hand,
more mindful of the tug of your inclinations.

Moving to inner journey, you break,
enter a lush green forest, sit near a stream, and watch the cascading waters tumble to the sea.
Rousing the curiosity of the young one, you follow the mountain goat into the wilds, that you might lose your life as you know it. See it from a freer place.
Remembering, you are heir to this wild gift of life.

From this place, you hold your inheritance differently in your hands,
freeing your dove-like soul to fly,  in preparation for the approaching festivals.

And as you walk, newly tasting your wine, readying for the first rains,
you labor, to bring in the produce of your fields,
listening more keenly to your inner advisor,
reconnecting with your foundations, touching dry land, facing the moon,
and doing the work of turning.

Yatzah: To go out                              Yakar: To be dear, precious           Yavesh: To dry up
Yachol: To be able                             Yagaa: To be fatigued from labor  
Yachad: To be united, attached        Yadah: To admit, thank                 Yadaa: To know
Yichiel: To hope, look forward to      Yalad: To bear (children)            
Yarad: To come down                        Yarei: To fear, stand in awe
Yarah: To teach, instruct                   Yashav: To sit, dwell
Yashan: To sleep, slumber                 Yashar: To go straight ahead, upright, honest
Yafah: To be beautiful, lovely

It's time to awaken from your slumber, and look at the places where your life has dried up.
Sit and listen to what you know,
and follow that, to healing.

Dwell with your inner truths and let them guide you.
Go straight to the matters which injure your soul,
this, as great a labor, as bringing in a harvest of corn.

Releasing then. Filling up with awe. Going out and summoning forth your best self.
Show your beauty. Give thanks for the opportunity to begin again.
In this moon of preparation, in this time that is dear.

Yagon: Grief, gloom, sorrow           Yah: God's name           Yedidut: Friendship, Beloved
Yonah: Jonah                                   Yoveil: Jubilee               Yosef: Joseph
Yeshuah: Help, rescue, salvation     Yerushaliyim: Jerusalem
Yordan: Jordan                                Yericho: Jericho
Yizcor: Memory of those who died

Great can be the grief that rises when you review your life.
And great can be the hope that springs up, when aided by your Beloved.

These paths lead to true freedom. Take you to your spiritual Jubilee.
Within us lies Jonah, who wishes to flee,
as well as Joseph, who traveled through powerful travails, emerging with great light.
Walk now through the tumbled ruins of Jericho, immerse in the waters of the Jordan, climb towards Jerusalem.

All the while, hold within, those no longer living on earth.
Carry them with you as you near Yizcor.

God's name floats with you, encouraging you in your climb,
in this powerful moon of Elul.